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Film / The New Mutants

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"Did you know that baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous than adult ones? They haven't learned to control how much venom is secreted. All of you are dangerous. That's why you're here."
Cecilia Reyes

The New Mutants is a 2020 teen sci-fi Superhero Horror film directed by Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) which serves as the thirteenth and final installment of the Fox X-Men film series. It is also the last Spin-Off and the only film in the series released under the 20th Century Studios banner. As the name suggests, it is an adaptation of the New Mutants comic book series (and, specifically, the "Demon Bear Saga").

It revolves around five young mutants who are just discovering their abilities being held in a secret facility against their will. When they learn of what secrets this certain facility has, they must fight to escape their past sins and save themselves. As they relive their origin stories, their memories turn into terrifying realities. Soon, they question what is real and what isn’t, and it becomes clear that the institution isn’t what it seems.

The movie stars Anya Taylor-Joy as Illyana Nikolaevna Alexandria Rasputin (Magik), Maisie Williams as Rahne Sinclair (Wolfsbane), Blu Hunt as Danielle "Dani" Moonstar (Mirage), Charlie Heaton as Samuel Zachary "Sam" Guthrie (Cannonball), Henry Zaga as Roberto "Bobby" da Costa (Sunspot), and Alice Braga as Dr. Cecilia Reyes.

The New Mutants holds the distinction of being the last movie in Fox's X-Men series to be released chronologically, as the long-running series was confirmed to be ending after Disney's acquisition of the company in favor of integrating the Mutants into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film itself was subject to multiple delays due to Fox considering extensive reshoots that never occurred (in part due to limited availability of the cast), and was further pushed back by Disney's acquisition of Fox, though the final film is in-line with what director Josh Boone sought to make. The film finally arrived in theaters on August 28, 2020.

In spite of being the last movie produced by the old guard, its predecessor Dark Phoenix was treated as the Grand Finale for Fox's X-Men films overall. Due to the delays, Dark Phoenix was the last movie released under the 20th Century Fox logo; thanks to the rebranding of the company as 20th Century Studios, The New Mutants is also the sole production from the Marvel-Fox braintrust to release under the new label.

Previews: Teaser, Trailer, Final Trailer.

The New Mutants contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Deviation: In the comic, the Demon Bear is a curse inflicted on various people or spirits, usually by the evil elder god known as The Adversary. Here, it's the embodiment of Dani's fears, brought to life when her power activates for the first time.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: While the Illyana Rasputin of the comics could be a brat and jerk, she wasn't openly hostile towards newcomers and racist like she is here.
  • Adapted Out: Karma is the only original New Mutant not to be featured. Magik, the most popular later addition to the team, is added in her place.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: While they were known for their subtext during the New Mutants period, Rahne and Dani are officially straight in the comics. They become a couple in the movie.
  • Adaptational Superpower Change: Several powers are altered for the sake of the movie, or altered to match the current vision of the characters and not how they first appeared:
    • Dani in the movie has the power to physically manifest people's greatest fears and most traumatic memories, compared to the comics where she's just a Master of Illusion. In the comics she also telepathically Speaks Fluent Animal, which played a huge part in her bond with Rahne.
    • Roberto in the movie shoots fire, with super-strength as a secondary ability, with no connection to the sun. In the comics, super-strength is his primary power while the flame-shooting came much later from a villain's experimentation (which also gave him flight), and all of his abilities are solar-powered.
    • Illyana's Soulsword in the comics is a weapon of pure magic that originally had no affect on non-magical foes except as a bluffing tool. Here, it's a regular sword that she imbues with magic, meaning it works just fine against everyone.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Dr. Cecilia Reyes is an ally of the X-Men in the comics. Here, she's the Big Bad.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Rahne's mutation lets her reach the air vents and use them to reach otherwise off-limits areas. She later tells Dani she can see in the dark, so she doesn't get lost using them.
  • Animal Metaphor:
    • Dr. Cecilia Reyes asks Dani if she knows that baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous than adult ones because they cannot yet control the amount of venom they secrete, as she's drawing blood from her.
      Dr. Reyes: All of you are dangerous. That is why you are here.
    • While preparing to fatally gas Dani, Reyes tells a story about a dog she had as a child, which became rabid and threatened those around it, likening Dani's impending death to euthanasia.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever The Kaiju-sized Demon bear that is manifested by Dani.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Demon Bear saves the New Mutants the trouble of killing Dr. Reyes.
  • Badass Boast: Illyana gets three.
    • When asked why she's in the institution in the first place, her reply definitely qualifies.
      Illyana: I killed eighteen men. One ... by ... one.
    • When Rahne and Sam try to stop her from taking on the Demon Bear in the Comic Con at Home preview:
      Sam: That thing will kill you!
      Rahne: He's right; that thing's magic.
      Illyana: So am I.
      [cue her Glowing Eyes and a confident smirk]
      • This also doubles as a Mythology Gag, since Illyana's superhero name is Magik.
    • The third one is when the Demon Bear has pursued Dani into the chapel.
      Demon bear! Nowhere to run, now.
  • Big Bad: Cecilia Reyes is the main antagonist of the movie, though she's killed by the Demon Bear just before the climax.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Played with; Dr. Cecilia Reyes is the film's main antagonist, but Demon Bear and the Smiley Men aren't under her control. It's Dani who causes Demon Bear and the other horrors to manifest, but, despite being one of the sources of the threat, she's not causing it willingly, nor can she control it prior to the climax.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Rahne breaks into Reyes lab through the air vents and violently mauls Reyes to stop her from killing Dani.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Throughout the last third of the movie, the Demon Bear terrorizes Rahne and Illyana. While Illyana is more or less prepared to fend it off with the Soul Sword, Rahne is reduced to screaming and covering her ears in fear as it corners her in a church confession booth.
  • Bloodstained Glass Windows: The Final Battle with the Demon Bear takes place in the hospital's church.
  • Bottle Episode: Except for the very beginning (and dream sequences), the entire movie takes place at the compound since Dr. Reyes has sealed the five "subjects" within a force-field bubble.
  • The Bully: Illyana bullies new student Dani and is generally difficult to be around.
  • Casting Gag: Maisie Williams, famous as dire wolf-loving Arya Stark, plays Wolfsbane, a mutant werewolf.
  • Christianity is Catholic: Rahne is a Catholic, unlike in the comics where she is Presbyterian. Oddly, in the movie she still calls her priest "Reverend" rather than "Father". (The priest appears in a flashback with the regalia of a bishop.) The chapel on the grounds is also specifically Catholic rather than nondenominational, with a confessional. It's the only representation of Christianity, since no other characters are shown to be religious.
  • Closed Circle: Discounting dreams or flashbacks, exactly one scene (the opening) doesn't take place on the Milbury Hospital grounds, and because of a force field surrounding it, the teens are unable to escape the hospital until Dr. Reyes is dead.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: While Reyes does refer to the teens as "new mutants" several times, it's a description, not a team name, and none of the cast use superhero names, although Illyana's ("Magik") and Sam's ("Cannonball") get a shout-out.
  • Confessional: Rahne goes to one in the chapel, confessing her sins there. However as there's no priest she just assigns herself the penance of saying ten Hail Marys.
  • Continuity Nod: While the film mainly avoids referencing specific events from the other X-Men films, Dani’s vision of mutant children being experimented on shows Gabriela’s video recording of the X-23 children, and the Essex Corporation was previously introduced in The Stinger of X-Men: Apocalypse.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: Referenced in one of the posters with the Tagline "Hell has frozen over", referencing the many times the movie had its release date shuffled.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: All of the New Mutants have one, tied to the emergence of their mutant powers:
    • Roberto accidentally burned his girlfriend alive when he couldn't control his powers while aroused.
    • Sam, during a fit of claustrophobia, accidentally used his powers to trigger a mine collapse that killed his father and a number of other miners.
    • Rahne suffered brutal abuse at the hands of her foster father, Reverend Craig, who branded her a witch when her mutant powers manifested. She wound up killing him during another incident of abuse.
    • Illyana spent part of her childhood as a Sex Slave before she managed to escape and murder 18 of her tormentors.
    • Dani accidentally conjured Demon Bear, who slaughtered her father and everyone else on their reservation.
  • Darker and Edgier: This is the darkest film of the X-Men film series, second only to Logan. Hell, it's darker than the original Demon Bear Saga itself due to Cecilia Reyes replacing Professor X.
    • Danny accidentally kills most of her people due to her powers being uncontrolled, causing a nightmarish "demon bear" that attacks them.
    • Illyana's backstory features her being used as a Sex Slave by Russian mobsters, subject matter that previous films had never touched, with her seeing terrible nightmares from that time.
    • Rahne suffered horrible abuse from a priest, which is also shown in her nightmares.
    • Roberto is shown accidentally burning his girlfriend alive (again with his uncontrolled power).
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Illyana is a deconstruction of the typical Broken Bird protagonist of a Rape and Revenge story. While she was subjected to unspeakable horrors and took revenge against her captors, the end result is a traumatised, troubled, misanthropic young woman who comes off as more creepy than badass, and who has trouble not taking her pain out on others. Her hostility towards Dani can be interpreted as racism, but considering her past, it’s also possible that she is hostile towards all new people and has simply known Rahne, Roberto, and Sam long enough to warm to them.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Rahne, who grew up in a strict Catholic environment, describes the emergence of her mutant power as making her feel "free", but she felt that it was wrong as well, and when she confessed to her foster father, he condemned and abused her, all of which is evocative of a young person realising their sexual orientation and suffering for it in a religious and abusive household (which, given Rahne's Adaptational Sexuality, may well have also been the case).
  • Easily Forgiven: Illyana was clearly about to kill Dani in one scene and then they are hanging out together in the next scene as if the previous scene didn’t happen.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Granted it has a Minimalist Cast, but it's notable that literally every character that appears on-screen other than the titular mutants are dead by the end of the film, at the hands of the mutants no less.
  • Fan Disservice: Rahne is taking a shower when a bloody illusion of Reverend Craig accosts her and brands her a second time. The next time Rahne shows up, she's naked and shivering with pain and terror.
  • Female Gaze: A lesbian variant; when Dani removes her towel to take a shower, Rahne visibly gives her body an awkward once-over.
  • Five-Token Band: While the teens have just two minorities (Brazilian and Native American), the three white members include a Scot and a Russian.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Reyes never names her "superiors", allowing the teens to assume that she's working for Charles Xavier. She's actually working for Essex Corp.
    • The hospital is named Milbury Hospital. For comic book fans, one of Mr. Sinister's alter egos is Nathan Milbury.
    • Rahne is shown watching Willow and Tara's first onscreen kiss from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Rahne herself is revealed to be attracted to women later in the film. Later, Sam is watching "Hush", where the villains were the ever-grinning Gentlemen, shortly before the Smile Men manifest and attack.
    • The hospital having a legit-looking lie-detector machine just casually lying around is a little strange, until you realise the more sinister machinations going on in the background, and what the mutants are being 'prepped' for
  • Forgot About His Powers: This is a big source of the character drama. The teens are in the facility because of their emotional hang-ups about their powers, so they neglect using them for quite a while. Finally being able to use them in their own defense is a character moment for each of them.
  • The Gadfly: Early on, Illyana provokes Dani into trying to flee the hospital grounds, telling her that "nothing" is between her and freedom. Said "nothing" turns out to be a normally invisible forcefield, which Dani runs headlong into, much to Illyana's amusement.
  • The Ghost:
    • Reyes' unnamed "superiors". The teens assume that she's working for Charles Xavier, but the implication is that her actual boss is Mr. Sinister, but either way, the hospital's benefactor never appears.
    • The X-Men are referred to, but none of them make any appearance.
  • Glowing Eyes: Illyana sports glowing white eyes as she faces off against the Demon Bear at the end of the second trailer.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Essex Corporation. Reyes refers to her "superiors" several times throughout the film, implicitly referring to Nathaniel Essex, aka Mister Sinister, but she never mentions any names. Sinister would appear in The Stinger before the movie's problems forced it to be a standalone.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Downplayed. While the film contains no explicit sex scenes, there is more explicit discussion of sex than is common for the franchise, with Rahne confessing to masturbation, Roberto's powers triggering whenever he becomes aroused, Toplessness from the Back occurring for both Dani and Rahne (then them kissing outside).
  • In Love with Your Carnage: Played for Laughs when the boys (Sam and Roberto) witness Illyana kicking major butt, complete with the Soul Sword and her Glowing Eyes.
    Roberto: That was so hot.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Dani and Rahne are kissing outside (which is Rahne's first time doing so) when havoc inside the building stops them.
  • The Juggernaut: Demon Bear is a hulking, building-sized monster that shrugs off all attempts the New Mutants make to stop it and tears people and buildings apart with ease.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: There's a mild example with Dani and Rahne. Dani has long hair and a pretty average style, Rahne's short-haired with boyish clothes. Otherwise though neither is that butch or femme.
  • Minimalist Cast: The main cast consists of six people (Dani, Rahne, Illyana, Sam, Roberto, Dr. Reyes), and only three other characters have speaking roles, all of whom only appear briefly (Dani and Sam's fathers, Reverend Craig). The degree to which Demon Bear or the Smiley Men can be described as "characters" is ambiguous, since none of them are real, being manifestations of Dani and Illyana's fears.
  • Moody Trailer Cover Song: All trailers — save the last — are set to a very dark reworking of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2". In fact, it gets darker with each trailer.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Roberto wears form-fitting shirts, gets a few shirtless scenes, and strips down to his underwear to go swimming with what he thinks is Illyana, which it seems is heading toward sex before his powers surge up.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Rahne and Dani both get a shot of Toplessness from the Back, with a very small amount of sideboob being briefly visible as well.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Illyana can be seen clutching a stuffed purple dragon or dinosaur, which she calls Lockheed. Her powers briefly bring him to life.
    • Sam imitates Professor X's iconic Pstandard Psychic Pstance to illustrate the teens' theory that they're being trained to join the X-Men.
    • The Essex Corporation's logo, seen on Dr. Reyes' pin and her superiors' e-mails, resembles the gem embedded in Mister Sinister's forehead in the comics. Mister Sinister's real name is Nathaniel Essex.
    • When Rahne warns Illyana that the Demon Bear is magic, she replies, "So am I." Illyana's Code Name in the comics is Magik.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Lockheed is brought to life for the final battle (fire-breath included).
  • Power Incontinence:
    • Roberto can't control his powers at first, which caused him to kill his girlfriend accidentally in the past when they were unleashed when he got aroused.
    • Sam's triggered a mine collapse accidentally which killed his father and a number of other miners.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The Essex Corporation may want powerful mutants, but the uncontrollable and incredibly dangerous nature of Dani's powers leads them to order her death, although Reyes is ordered to take more DNA samples before terminating her.
  • Precision F-Strike: Illyana asks Dani: "How fucked up are you?"
  • Pstandard Psychic Pstance: Sam imitates Professor X's iconic pose while voicing his theory that Reyes is training the teens to join the X-Men.
  • Punchclock Villain: Reyes seems to honestly want to help her charges reach their full potential. When she's tasked with euthanizing Dani, she has to rationalize it to both Dani and herself as the best thing for everyone.
  • Queer Romance: Dani and Rahne seem like friends only at first, but then they fall for each other, becoming a couple.
  • Race Lift: Cecilia Reyes and Roberto da Costa are both Afro-Latino in the comic books, but here, they're fair-skinned characters with Latin American heritage.
  • Red Herring: Throughout the film, Dr. Reyes tells the New Mutants about her superiors who have a "facility for gifted mutants." that they will be transferred to "when they're better." Fans of the comics, who know of Dr. Reyes and her association with the X-Men, as well as the New Mutants themselves, automatically assume she's referring to Professor X. She's actually referring to the Essex Corporation. Since, as noted under Adaptational Villainy she's the Big Bad with Essex Corp. as the Greater-Scope Villain.
  • The Reveal:
    • Dr. Reyes' oft-mentioned superiors are the Essex Corporation, rather than the X-Men as the teens assumed.
    • Archive footage from Logan confirms what that film implied, that Transigen is an affiliate or extension of the Essex Corporation.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shower Scene: Dani and Rahne get one together, while Rahne gets a short solo one later.
  • Sinister Surveillance: The teens are constantly being observed by security cameras.
  • Slasher Smile: Illyana's greatest fear manifests as monstrous men with no eyes and wide, horrifying smiles.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Surprisingly idealistic for a horror movie. None of the main characters die except the film's Big Bad Cecilia Reyes and Demon Bear is defeated by Dani talking down to it and accepting her newfound gifts.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: Early on, Dani attempts suicide by climbing a clock tower and preparing to jump. Thankfully, Rahne manages to talk her down, with Rahne's compassion proving to be the first step in their progressing romance.
  • Their First Time: When Dani and Rahne are kissing in the cemetery, Rahne admits she's never even done that before. Dani implies that, while she's never done anything with another girl, she's not completely inexperienced.
  • Title Drop: Two.
    • When taking Dani's blood, Dr. Reyes refers to "new mutants".
    • During Dani's explanation of her necklace, she talks about the legend of the "demon bear", which was the title of the first arc in the comic.
  • Toplessness from the Back: A double in the shower, courtesy of Dani and Rahne. There's a later example too when Rahne is in there alone.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Inverted. The New Mutants' team has three girls (Illyana, Rahne and Dani) and two boys (Sam and Roberto).
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Roberto and Illyana have one. Until it's revealed that this Illyana is actually a mirage, later turning into the woman who Roberto burned alive.
  • Unreliable Expositor: According to Illyana, Dr. Reyes claims that the closest town is 20 miles from the hospital, although Illyana admits (possibly jokingly) that Reyes could be lying. Reyes also claims, later in the film, that the authorities in Kentucky are looking to arrest Sam for the mine collapse he accidentally caused. Given that Reyes is the Big Bad and had already lied many times before that point, the veracity of both claims (and most of what she says, for that matter) is cast into doubt. The film never solidly confirms if Reyes was telling the truth.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Both Dani and Reyes; Dani's powers, which she neither understands nor controls, are what are creating the horrors that assail the New Mutants, and while Reyes is hardly a well-meaning figure, she only brought Dani to the hospital to study her powers for her superiors and didn't plan for all the chaos that unfolded.
  • Villainous Rescue: Demon Bear attacks and devours Reyes just before the doctor can smother Dani with a force field.
  • Wham Shot:
    • The archive footage from Logan that depicts Transigen.
    • The reveal that Cecilia Reyes works for Essex Corporation. As in Nathaniel Essex, aka Mr. Sinister.

"My father used to tell me inside every person there are two bears. One bear is all things good; compassion, love, trust; the other is all things evil; fear, shame and self destruction. I asked him: which one wins? He answered: "The one you feed."


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Alternative Title(s): New Mutants


The New Mutants

It revolves around five young mutants who are just discovering their abilities being held in a secret facility against their will. When they learn of what secrets this certain facility has, they must fight to escape their past sins and save themselves. As they relive their origin stories, their memories turn into terrifying realities. Soon, they question what is real and what isn't, and it becomes clear that the institution isn’t what it seems.

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